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Acumen Communications

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Released: June 26, 2015

Federal Communications Commission

DA 15-747

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Acumen Communications
)
File No.: EB- FIELDWR-13-00006185
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201432900001
Licensee of Station WQJF635,
)
FRN: 0016049017
Los Angeles, CA
)

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: June 25, 2015

Released: June 26, 2015

By the Regional Director, Western Region, Enforcement Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
We impose a penalty of $17,000 against Acumen Communications (Acumen) licensee of
private land mobile radio service station WQJF635 (Station), Los Angeles, California, for operating the
Station on a frequency not authorized on its license, and for failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid
causing harmful interference to United States Coast Guard (USCG) operations. Acumen argues that the
unauthorized frequency was created by a mix of various frequencies, not all within its control, and that it
did not willfully or repeatedly violate the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), or the
Commission’s rules (Rules). We find that the investigation by the Enforcement Bureau’s Los Angeles
Office shows that Acumen was responsible for the operation on the unauthorized frequency, and that
Acumen willfully and repeated violated the Act and the Rules. Therefore, after reviewing Acumen’s
response to the NAL, we find no reason to cancel, withdraw, or reduce the proposed penalty, and we
therefore assess the full $17,000 forfeiture the Bureau proposed.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
On January 17, 2013, in response to a complaint from the USCG concerning interference
to their operations in the Los Angeles, California, area in the 150 MHz VHF band, an agent from the
Enforcement Bureau’s Los Angeles Office (Los Angeles Office), using radio direction-finding methods,
determined that the continuous signal that was causing interference to the USCG was coming from the
Mount Wilson communications site in Los Angeles, California.1 The next day, Los Angeles agents
located the interfering signal, transmitting on 150.6973 MHz, to the Acumen transmitter and equipment
rack, in the Acumen Communications Building on Mount Wilson. In response to a request from the Los
Angeles Office, Acumen turned off the offending transmitter remotely and the interference to the USCG
ceased. When queried by the agents, Acumen stated that the radio station in question was operating
pursuant to the Station WQJF635 authorization.2 In response to a Notice of Violation3 issued by the Los

1 The NAL includes a more complete discussion of the facts and history of this case and is incorporated herein by
reference. See Acumen Communications, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd 16349, at 16349–
16350, paras. 2–4 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (NAL).
2 According to the Station WQJF635 authorization in effect at the time of the investigation, the only VHF
frequencies it was authorized to operate on, from any location, were VHF frequencies 152.285 MHz and 157.545
MHz; the authorization did not include operation on frequency 151.580 MHz.
3 See Acumen Communications, Notice of Violation, V201332900008 (Jan. 30, 2013) (NOV), issued for failing to
operate Station WQJF635 in accordance with its authorization, and for failing to take reasonable precautions to
(continued….)

Federal Communications Commission

DA 15-747

Angeles Office, Acumen did not deny that the Station was generating the spurious signal on 150.6973,
but stated that the transmitter was operating “on frequency 152.285 [MHz] and . . . that the transmitter
was transmitting a spurious signal about .8 [MHz] both sides of the designated [frequency] across the
band and . . . [it was] moving all over. (Completely unstable).”4
3.
On December 11, 2013, the Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) issued the Acumen NAL
proposing a $17,000 forfeiture against Acumen for its apparent willful and repeated violation of Section
301 of the Act,5 and Sections 1.903(a) and 90.403(e) of the Rules,6 by operating the Station on a frequency
not authorized on its license, and by failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid causing harmful
interference.
4.
On January 12, 2014, Acumen filed a response to the NAL.7 Acumen makes a number of
arguments as to why the NAL should be canceled, asserting that the unauthorized frequency was created
by a mix of various frequencies, not all within its control,8 and that it did not willfully or repeatedly
violate the Act or the Rules.9

III.

DISCUSSION

5.
The Bureau proposed a forfeiture in this case in accordance with Section 503(b) of the
Act,10 Section 1.80 of the Rules,11 and the Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement.12 When we assess
forfeitures, Section 503(b)(2)(E) requires that we take into account the “nature, circumstances, extent, and
gravity of the violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior
offenses, ability to pay, and such other matters as justice may require.”13 As discussed below, we have
fully considered Acumen’s response to the NAL, which includes two arguments, but we find neither of
them persuasive. We therefore affirm the $17,000 forfeiture proposed in the NAL.

A.

Operation on Unauthorized Frequency

6.
Section 301 of the Act prohibits the use or operation of any apparatus for the
transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio, except under and in accordance with the
Act and with a license granted under the provisions of the Act.14 Section 1.903(a) of the Rules requires
that stations in the Wireless Radio Services must be used and operated only in accordance with the rules
(Continued from previous page)
avoid causing interference to licensed services, by operating Station WQJF635 on frequency 151.580 MHz and
generating a spurious emission on frequency 150.6973 MHz.
4 See Response to Notice of Violation of Acumen Communications at 1 (Mar. 6, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDWR-
13-00006185).
5 47 U.S.C. § 301.
6 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.903(a), 90.403(e).
7 Acumen, Response to Notice of Apparent Liability (Jan. 12, 2014) (on file in EB- FIELDWR-13-00006185) (NAL
Response).
8 NAL Response at 1–3.
9 Id. at 2–3.
10 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
11 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
12 The Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the
Forfeiture Guidelines
, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997) (Forfeiture Policy Statement), recons. denied,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999).
13 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E).
14 47 U.S.C. § 301.
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 15-747

applicable to their particular service, and with a valid authorization granted by the Commission.15
7.
In its NAL Response, Acumen argues that it was not the source of the interfering signal
on 150.6973 MHz, but that the signal was produced by a “mix” of signals, including Acumen’s
authorized use of frequency 152.285 MHz.16 Acumen further argues that the Los Angeles Office agents
saw only a sticker on the Acumen transmitter that labeled the transmitter as operating on 151.580 MHz.17
Consequently, Acumen states there is no evidence that it was responsible for the offending signal.18
Contrary to Acumen’s assertions, we find that the evidence supports the finding in the NAL that the
Acumen transmitter was responsible for the interfering signal. The Los Angeles agents located the signal
on 150.6973 MHz to the Acumen building on Mt. Wilson, and screen captures of spectrum analyzer
measurements confirmed that the fundamental frequency in use was 151.580 MHz.19 A spurious signal
causing interference to USCG operations in the 150 MHz band was observed on 150.6973 MHz, a
frequency approximately 0.8 MHz below the center frequency of 151.580 MHz, which is within the range
of spurious activity that Acumen acknowledged in its NOV Response.20 Finally, when Acumen remotely
turned the transmitter off, the spurious signal disappeared. Acumen proffers no evidence or calculations
to support its assertion that other transmitters also contributed to the creation of the interfering signal.

B.

Failing to Take Reasonable Precautions to Avoid Interference

8.
Section 90.403(e) of the Rules requires that “[l]icensees shall take reasonable precautions
to avoid causing harmful interference. This includes monitoring the transmitting frequency for
communications in progress and such other measures as may be necessary to minimize the potential for
causing interference.”21
9.
Acumen argues that because there is no evidence that it intended to create the spurious
signal, there is no proof that Acumen willfully or repeatedly violated the Act or the Rules or failed to take
reasonable precautions to avoid interference.22 Acumen also asserts that it did not know that its
transmitter “would mix and interfere with the USCG.”23 We reject Acumen’s argument that the Bureau
must show that Acumen intended to create the offending signals. Licensees are expected to know and
comply with the Rules.24 As the Commission has repeatedly held, violations resulting from inadvertent
error or failure to become familiar with the FCC’s requirements can be and often are willful violations.25
In the context of a forfeiture action, “willful” does not require a finding that the rule violation was

15 47 C.F.R. § 1.903(a).
16 NAL Response at 1–3.
17 Id. at 2.
18 Id. at 2–3.
19 NAL, 28 FCC Rcd at 16349–16350, paras. 2–4.
20 Id. Indeed, in its NOV Response, Acumen did not dispute that it was the cause of the interfering spurious signal,
and it also acknowledged that the spurious signal was approximately 0.8 MHz on both sides of the fundamental
frequency. NOV Response at 1.
21 47 C.F.R. § 90.403(e).
22 NAL Response at 2–3.
23 Id. at 2.
24 See Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17099, para. 22 (“[t]he Commission expects [each licensee], and
it is each licensee’s obligation, to know and comply with all of the Commission’s rules”).
25 See, e.g., Emery Telephone, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 23854, 23859, para. 12 (1998) (by
issuing forfeitures for inadvertent violations corrected after the fact, “the Bureau impels licensees to be more
familiar with the applicable rules in structuring future conduct”), recon. dismissed in part and denied in part,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 7181 (1999).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 15-747

intentional.26 Rather, the term “willful” means that the violator knew it was taking (or not taking) the
action in question, irrespective of any intent to violate the law.27 Here, Acumen was operating the
offending transmitter which was creating the spurious signal, over a period of at least two days, January
17 and 18, 2013, and it failed to monitor or take any other reasonable precautions to avoid causing
harmful interference. Consequently, Acumen’s violations were willful and repeated.

IV.

CONCLUSION

10.
Having considered Acumen’s response to the NAL in light of the applicable statutory
factors, the Rules, and the Forfeiture Policy Statement, we find that Acumen willfully and repeatedly
violated Section 301 of the Act and Sections 1.903(a) and 90.403(e) of the Rules,28 by operating the Station
on a frequency not authorized on its license, and by failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid causing
harmful interference. We decline to cancel or reduce the $17,000 forfeiture proposed in the NAL.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

11.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80 of the Commission’s rules,29 Acumen
Communications

IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE

in the amount of seventeen
thousand dollars ($17,000) for willful violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended and Sections 1.903(a) and 90.403(e) of the Commission’s rules.30
12.
Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in Section 1.80 of the
Rules within thirty (30) calendar days after the release of this Forfeiture Order.31 If the forfeiture is not
paid within the period specified, the case may be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for
enforcement of the forfeiture pursuant to Section 504(a) of the Act.32
13.
Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument, wire transfer, or
credit card, and must include the NAL/Account Number and FRN referenced above. Acumen
Communications shall send electronic notification of payment to WR-Response@fcc.gov on the date said
payment is made. Regardless of the form of payment, a completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice)
must be submitted.33 When completing the Form 159, enter the Account Number in block number 23A
(call sign/other ID) and enter the letters “FORF” in block number 24A (payment type code). Below are
additional instructions that should be followed based on the form of payment selected:
 Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission. Such payments (along with completed Form 159) must
be mailed to the Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO
63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank – Government Lockbox #979088,

26 See, e.g., Tidewater Communications, LLC, Order on Review, 25 FCC Rcd 1675, 1676, para. 5 (2010) (“To be
willful, the violator must consciously commit or omit certain actions and need not be aware that such actions violate
the Rules.”).
27 See Catholic Radio of Loveland, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 15-66, 2015 WL 3645698 (June 11,
2015) (conscious and deliberate operation of a station that results in unauthorized emissions, even if the licensee is
not aware of the unauthorized emissions, fulfills the “willful” standard required under the Act).
28 47 U.S.C. § 301; 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.903(a), 90.403(e).
29 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80.
30 47 U.S.C. § 301; 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.903(a), 90.403(e).
31 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
32 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
33 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 15-747

SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.
 Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004, receiving bank
TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete the wire transfer and
ensure appropriate crediting of the wired funds, a completed Form 159 must be faxed to
U.S. Bank at (314) 418-4232 on the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.
 Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit card information
on FCC From 159 and signing and dating the Form 159 to authorize the credit card
payment. The completed Form 159 must then be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to
U.S. Bank – Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St.
Louis, MO 63101.
14.
Any request for making full payment over time under an installment plan should be sent
to: Chief Financial Officer – Financial Operations, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th
Street, SW, Room 1-A625, Washington, DC 20554.34 Questions regarding payment procedures should be
directed to the Financial Operations Group Help Desk by telephone, 1-877-480-3201, or by e-mail,
ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
15.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Forfeiture Order shall be sent by first
class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, to Acumen Communications, 10670 S. La Cienega
Blvd., Suite C, Inglewood, CA 90304.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Rebecca L. Dorch
Regional Director
Western Region
Enforcement Bureau

34 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
5

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